After a few more weeks of waiting and anticipating for the worst, I check my e-mail and find a new e-mail from my Dad. It stated that he had been extremely busy in the best month or so, and that he won't be able to communicate so often anymore. I release a heavy sigh and reply to him, saying that school is boring and that I'm not having fun even though I live right next to the beach. Living next to the beach doesn't necessarily mean that summer will be fun. I am loaded with chores and never really do anything.
A few weeks before school, Mom took me school shopping. I got my school dress code, which consisted of our school color polo, khaki shorts, and blue jeans. I got new shoes and some school supplies. I'm not sure how I feel about going to high school. I'm a little anxious, yet a little excited, but also a little scared of all of the freshmen stereotypes.
It's two weeks before school, and Dad should be getting into South Carolina in a few days. I tried really hard to get my mom to help me get up there, but she refused to travel for so long and in such a brief time. I guess she just didn't understand how much seeing him walk off of the bus and into the caring arms of his family meant to me.
The day before he got back from Afghanistan, my grandfather had posted a picture on Facebook of a sign that said, "Welcome Home, Toby!" on the garage door.
I heave a sigh, wishing that I were there. I log out and hop in bed. I'm expecting to get a call in no more than three days.
The next day, I got my schedule for my freshman year in high school. In first period, I'll have Personal Fitness for the first semester and Team Sports for the second semester. Great. I think, I'll be sweaty all day. I have Computing for Technology and Careers for second period throughout the year. I'll have Physical Science Honors for third period through the whole year. I'll be getting Algebra 2 Honors throughout the year. This is odd, I think, because I'm supposed to have geometry after Algebra 1. I look over to fifth period and see that I made it into Journalism class. I think it was obvious that I am a shoe-in for that because I've been in Journalism for two years already. I'll have World History Honors for sixth period throughout the school year. And I'll finish most of my school days with English 1 Honors for seventh period. I post my schedule on my bulletin board. It has all of the room numbers on the schedule. I have the school layout memorized so that I don't look like a silly little freshmen off the bat.
I slouch into the couch and disregard my chores for the day. I watch television until my family gets home and complains that I didn't clean anything. I couldn't care less what they think about me. I leave the room and drag my feet into mine. I close the door and I don't come out until the next day.
I get a call from Dad, finally. I answer the phone.
"Hello?" I speak into the phone.
"Hey, bud," Dad starts. "How's it going?"
"It's going, I guess," I reply. "I've been better, but I've been worse. Summer has been really slow and boring."
"Well that sucks," Dad says.
"Yeah, It does," I tell him.
The rest of the conversation is pretty awkward considering we haven't gotten to verbally speak to each other in months. I tried to fill in the gaps of my summer since we haven't e-mailed in a while, but there were hardly any gaps to fill. The summer has been one of the worst. So he tells me some of his stories until he has to go out to eat with the others. They all tell me greetings over the phone, but I wish I could speak to them in person. He finally hangs up, and I drop my phone onto my desk and let go a sigh. I turn the light off and go to sleep, realizing that tomorrow is the first day of school.
The first day of school isn't as hectic as I expected. I got up pretty early. I got to school and found my classes with ease. It was a pretty good first day.
Weeks passed into months. I was waiting for the day that I could finally meet my dad for the first time in almost half a year. October is soon approaching. We have a little fall break for four days. That's enough time to go to South Carolina for a couple of days. I talk to mom about it, and she says that since I couldn't go when Dad landed, I get to go this little break.
Mom and Dad work together to get a meeting time. October 4 was the last day before the break began. I'd be leaving that night to go to Alabama to rest, and then to Georgia, where Dad would pick me up. All it took was a few hours for it all to start. The bell rings for English class to end. I bust through the doors and onto the bus. I'm home and packed before my mother and stepfather are home.
As I predicted, we stayed in Alabama for the night, and then we headed over to Georgia. The ride to Georgia made me anxious. Would there be anything different about Dad? Did he change physically? Mentally? Or both?
Mom parks the car into a fast food restaurant in LaGrange. I search for a tan Tahoe. I see one pull into the parking lot. It was Dad, the man I had been longing to see for nearly six months. I get out of the car, grab my things, and say my goodbyes to my mom. I walk over to the Tahoe and shove my bags into the trunk and squeeze my dad. He hasn't changed much from what I've seen. He's a little thinner, but I guess that was expected.
"Hey, Bud," Dad says.
"Hey," I reply.
I walk to the passenger seat and notice that Tammy wasn't there.
"She's sick," Dad informs me.
I get into the seat and buckle my seat belt.
"So do you have any plans for this little trip?" Dad asks me.
To be honest, I haven't even thought about what to do once I finally knew that my dad had come home, unharmed.
Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who has kept going on with my story, even though it has taken a long time for me to complete. Thanks to everyone who has given me feedback to improve my writing. I've loved sharing my personal story with all of Whyville, and I hope that you enjoyed it too. -Trent, a military son.